A 10-year-old hacker on Sunday spoke at the first-ever Defcon Kids, as more young people become involved in the hacking community.
Using the pseudonym CyFi, she presented her zero-day exploit before one hundred hackers at the annual conference in Las Vegas. She explained how she infiltrated games similar to Farmville on Android and iOS platforms in order to speed up their meandering pace.
CyFi manually changed the clocks on her mobile devices to make her virtual grapes grow faster and give her a better chance of winning the game. As some games prohibit such changes, CyFi says she worked around this by disconnecting her phone’s Wi-Fi and then making clock adjustments.
“It was hard to make progress in the game, because it took so long for things to grow,” she said. “So I thought, “Why don’t I just change the time?’”
CyFi’s hack is termed zero-day since game developers aren’t yet aware of the vulnerability; she refused to name her targets in the interest of giving them time to repair the flaw.
CyFi isn’t the only young hacker present at Defcon, however, as Defcon Kids now gives the new generation a chance to open master locks, code in scratch and even communicate to each other in code. As the older generation of hackers grows up and has children, other hacking camps for kids may flourish.
Additionally, exposing children like CyFi to the hacking world may land them government jobs in the future, especially as governments bolster ranks to better fight cyber-attacks. For example, in the wake of serious governmental and corporate security breaches, Peiter Zatko’s “Cyber Fast Track” program aims to quickly fund hackers who create projects to boost national security. Zatko, who works for the Defense Advanced Research Projects (DARPA) Agency, last week announced his program at Defcon in hopes attendees would consider signing up.
Also, the National Security Administration’s Richard George called on Defcon participants to serve their country, pitching his organization as the ideal employer for those hackers wanting to prevent large-scale “black hat” attacks. The NSA aims to hire 1,500 cyber experts before September 30.
On the other side of the coin, young hackers may find a role model in LulzSec hacktivist member and FBI wanted man “Sabu,” who is reportedly attending Defcon. He faces arrest, fines and imprisonment if caught for his alleged part in LulzSec’s hacks against the CIA, FBI and various other governmental organizations. Rumors report Anonymous hacktivist members, responsible for similar high-profile breaches, are also in secret attendance at Defcon.
Young hackers can choose now to aid the U.S. in catching black hat hackers, or to become such hackers themselves. Conferences like Defcon expose them to both sides, so that no matter which path they travel down, today’s young hackers are likely to understand their choices better.